• Helium: Finding a Suitable Alternative for your GCMS Analysis


Helium: Finding a Suitable Alternative for your GCMS Analysis

Jul 28 2020

Over the past 12 months, helium prices have continued to increase significantly.

The first step to combat this is to ‘Save it’ by reducing He consumption. Shimadzu’s latest single- and triple-quadrupole GCMS NX series all come with Carrier Gas Saver and Eco modes as standard. Not only can these help reduce He consumption by around 80%, Eco mode can also reduce power consumption in standby by up to 40%.


For those looking to ‘Swap it’ for a helium-free future, Shimadzu’s flagship single-quadrupole instrument, the GCMS-QP2020 NX, offers advanced features and performance to make switching to an alternative carrier gas even faster, safer and easier.

When switching to H2 carrier gas, safety is often the biggest concern. Shimadzu’s GCMS-QP2020 NX has an optional built-in H2 sensor to detect any oven leaks and take action to prevent the concentration breaching the 4% lower explosion limit (LEL).

Shimadzu’s GCMS-QP2020 NX is 3x more sensitive than the only other single quad system to include performance data for H2. It is also the only model on the market that states N2 as an option. This means the typical drop in sensitivity is just 2-5x, compared to helium. Shimadzu has recently demonstrated high-sensitivity analysis of PAHs, PCBs & VOCs using a twin-line setup for liquid & headspace sampling. LODs for components were all <0.5 µg/L with R2 values >0.999.

N2 sensitivity is considerably lower, but is still viable for analysis in the ppm range.

On average, the match factor drops by 10-15% with H2 when using commercial libraries. Custom libraries can be created with H2 carrier to resolve this. Alternatively, N2 shows no discernible drop in spectral quality, so is good for unknown identification.

It’s well known that H2 offers significantly faster speeds for GC analysis, and the same is true for GCMS. Analysis times can be reduced by 50%, helping to significantly increase sample throughput.

Shimadzu’s GCMS-QP2020 NX is the best single quadrupole GCMS system on the market for use with alternative carrier gases. As well as mitigating safety risks, it offers the best performance in terms of sensitivity and flexibility. In addition to this, Shimadzu’s use of linear velocity gas control mode and linear retention indices (LRIs) makes method translation faster and simpler.

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